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POLO PLAYERS WILL SPAR TO HELP FIGHT EYE DISEASES

There's the backshot, but it's not when Minnesota Fats shoots with his pool cue behind his back. You'll see six chukkers - but no one is hunting. Someone will hook a shot, but there'll be no basket slam-dunked because the sport is polo, not basketball.

Indeed, the Utah Polo Club will be taking to the Pheasant Hollow Polo Field in Sandy in a professional polo tournament fund-raiser. The Utah polo enthusiasts will meet teams from Sun Valley, Idaho, and Jackson Hole, Wyo. The polo matches are scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10, from 2-6 p.m. at 575 W. 9800 South.The Congressional Cup Polo Tournament will benefit the National Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation - Utah Affiliate. Funds raised by the tournament will directly benefit the University of Utah Research Center, the John Moran Eye Center and a number of educational activities.

Also taking to the field will be local politicians and media personalities. In the Press vs. Politicians Challenge game, U.S. Reps. Karen Shepherd and Bill Orton will join Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini and Salt Lake County Commissioner Jim Bradley to take on the media team of KTVX's Randall Carlisle, Fox's Libby Weaver, KSL's Jane Clay-son and the Salt Lake Tribune's Paul Rolly.

Instead of traveling to England for a dose of this royal game, Utahns can attend the Congressional Cup Polo Tournament to get a taste of the excitement of flashing hooves and swinging mallets.

The gates of Pheasant Hollow Polo Field will open at 1 p.m. and there will be a posting of the colors and procession of horses at 2 p.m. The Celebrity Chukker (there are six chukkers or periods in a polo match) starts at 2:30 p.m., and the exhibition match between the Sun Valley and Jackson Hole Longhorns and Utah's Pheasant Hollow Farm Team will begin at 4 p.m. Attendees can watch for the "hook" shot, or blocking a shot by putting a mallet in the way of the striking player's mallet. The "backshot" is a sudden backhand swing that changes the flow of play by sending the ball in the opposite direction.

Tickets are available for $5 per person or $12 for families and can be purchased in advance at the ZCMI Mall Center Court or at the polo field the day of the event.

Retinitis pigmentosa may be as little-known to Utahns as polo. RP is a group of inherited diseases initially manifested as night blindness, followed by progressive loss of peripheral vision. Over time, the result is "tunnel vision" that may lead to total blindness.

It is estimated that 31,000 Utahns are affected by hereditary retinal problems. The RP Foundation funds more research on blinding diseases than any other nongovernmental agency. One out of every 80 people carries the recessive gene for RP and most people with RP are legally blind by the age of 40.

In addition to benefiting a worthy cause and enjoying a taste of polo, those who attend the Congressional Cup Polo Tournament can partake of food concessions at the Pheasant Hollow Polo Field. For more information about the polo tournament or about RP, call 299-8767.